Stephen A. Smith was back on ESPN’s “First Take” on Monday after missing several weeks after a serious COVID-19 scare that left the sports personality in the hospital.
The 54-year-old, who first tested positive in mid-December, opened the show on Monday explaining what he went through and how he spent New Year’s in a hospital bed.
“You’re assuming that you’ll have a fever, might have a cough, gonna have that massive headache — but you’ll get over it,” he said. “In a lot of cases that was the case. In my case, it was totally different.
“I had 103-degree fever every night. Woke up with chills and a pool of sweat. Headaches were massive. Coughing profusely. And it got to a point where right before New Year’s Eve, I was in the hospital into New Year’s Day. That’s how I brought in the New Year. And [doctors] told me had I not been vaccinated I wouldn’t be here. That’s how bad I was.”
Smith detailed how he had pneumonia in both lungs and a struggling liver and added that he still is not quite 100 percent and is still monitoring things he does, including controlling his volume.
He also thanked his colleagues and others in the sports community for their support before delivering a PSA to everyone else:
“Everybody’s different. … I think the one thing to emphasize the importance of, no matter how you feel about the vaccine, that mask is important,” he said. “The reason why the mask is so important is because you don’t know how the next person is affected. How I’m affected is different from how you are affected.”
Smith also used his sister, who smokes, as an example of someone who had a mild case for a few days while he had a much more severe case despite not being a smoker.
But most of all, Smith was delighted to return to work.
“I don’t take many sick days, but I had to do it this month just to survive,” he said. “And I can’t tell you how lucky and sincerely blessed I am to be sitting here today — because two-and-a-half weeks ago, I didn’t know if I was gonna make it.”